Today’s tactics article looks at how the updates in Blood of Baal makes Hive Guard and the Exocrine even more powerful than before.
First off, BOTH of these units received a points decrease. Hive Guard got cheaper Impaler Cannons and the Exocrine dropped by a respectable amount of points as well in Chapter Approved (CA) 2019. This makes it easier to fit both units into your lists. Beyond that, Psychic Awakening: Blood of Baal (BoB) gave Hive Fleet Kronos an incredible psychic power that really ramps up the effectiveness of shooting units. Let us look at Hive Guard first.
Hive Guard were already solid choices that are an almost auto-include in every list. They have reasonable range, ignore cover, ignore line of sight, and hit like an Astra Militarum ::coughImperialGuardcough:: tank squad! The Hive Fleet trait from Hive Fleet Kronos allows them to re-roll 1’s to hit if they remained stationary in the movement phase. The Codex: Tyranids stratagem Single-Minded Annihilation allows them to shoot twice!
BoB gives Hive Fleet Kronos access to the Symbiostorm psychic power that allows a unit to generate an extra hit for every hit roll of 6+.
A unit of Hive Fleet Kronos Hive Guard with Impaler Cannons firing twice at a toughness 8, 3+ save target will average 12.444 damage if it remained stationary.
If you add Symbiostorm into the mix, the average damage jumps up to 18.667! This is a significant increase in damage output that will destroy the majority of vehicles you will face. (Including the popular Space Marine Repulsor)
Symbiostorm is a powerful addition to a Kronos fleet and would be well used on a unit of Hive Guard. In fact, I don’t imagine anyone would even consider using it on another unit except for the…
The Exocrine is a tough creature evolved to take out heavy infantry. Unfortunately, the range on its guns and the fact that it loses the majority of its damage potential if it moves has caused this model to be a rare sight in competitive events. I fully expect that to change, however, as this model received a points drop in CA 2019 as well as the incredible BoB stratagem, Symbiotic Devastation. Taking this model in Hive Fleet Kronos takes its damage output to insane levels. Let’s have a look.
A Kronos Exocrine that counts as remaining stationary will do 10.370 damage and kill an average of 5 Primaris Marines. If facing 3 wound models like Aggressors, you could spend the command points to use the Pathogenic Slime stratagem to bring the damage up to 3 and cause an average of 15.556 damage killing 5 Aggressors.
Where it gets really crazy is when you use Symbiostorm and you actually DOUBLE your damage output doing an average of 20.741 wounds and killing 10 Aggressors! Because the Exocrine fires twice, you can even fire on two separate squads of Aggressors killing 5 from each squad!
Keeping the Exocrine Alive
If your opponent knows what your Exocrine can do, he/she will probably kill it before putting any reasonable targets in range of it. Marines are particularly vulnerable to the Exocrine and are also particularly good at killing it. You have a couple of options.
First, you could use one of your Adaptive Physiologies to give it Dermic Symbiosis. A 5++ is going to help and counting double wounds for the damage track/tier is useful as well. The problem here is that it can still be killed relatively reliably from dedicated firepower. So…
The second option is to use a Tyrannocyte. Yes, I said it. I said Tyrannocyte. Before you chase me off with pitch forks and torches let me say this: The Tyrannocyte dropped in price and is very affordable now. It’s a giant extra target with a lot of guns and a lot of wounds. Also, it can try to charge to tie things up or just help score objectives. Your opponent won’t want to invest the resources necessary to kill it and any that they do use on it is firepower not going towards your other bugs. Not only can it keep an Exocrine safe, it can do a lot of annoying things on its own after it arrives! (To be fair, you could also use a Tyrannocyte to deploy Hive Guard in an advantageous position and then cast the Onslaught psychic power on them to keep them firing at full effect too but they can usually start in a good position to begin with.)
Should you choose to use a Tyrannocyte to deliver your Exocrine to the battlefield, you can use the BoB stratagem Symbiotic Devastation to ensure your Exocrine still fires at full effect! You could also wait to bring it in until your opponent sneaks in those Ravenguard Aggressors or whatever nasty unit they are going to try and surprise you with.
Both Hive Guard and Exocrines have gotten better at what they do. (In some cases the Exocrine actually doubles its damage output!) To sweeten the deal, GW decided to make both units cheaper for us too! Most players will enjoy the benefits of cheaper, more dangerous Kronos Hive Guard. But I definitely think it is worth considering adding an Exocrine to the list in the Space Marine meta we currently live in too. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what it does!
Please comment below and let me know what you think! Do you agree? Do you disagree? Is there a better way of keeping Exocrines alive until a critical point than using a Tyrannocyte? Share your thoughts with us here on the blog or on our Facebook page! Thanks for reading!